Caring Currents

Alzheimer's Statistics

Last updated:

March 21, 2008
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Anyone caring for a relative with Alzheimer's or dementia can't help but have noticed all these scary numbers in the news this past week:* 10 million baby boomers are forecast to get Alzheimer's -- that's 1 in 8.

* 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men will get some kind of dementia in their lifetime.

* Almost 1 in 4 people over age 70 suffer from memory loss that impairs daily life but isn't dementia.

* Having 2 parents with Alzheimer's raises your own risk of developing it. There's a silver lining in these grim forecasts : A wake up call to boomer caregivers (and pre-boomers and Gen-Xers who are caregiving, too) to take care of ourselves. Basic? Sure. Overlooked? Definitely. Difficult? One of the tougher challenges of our jam-sandwiched lives. (You have to laugh at the title of this KnowItAlz.com post: "Help Wanted: Caregiver for ME." ) Alas, we are our brains' own caregivers. Even if genetics are against you, there are significant risk factors for dementia that you can control. So here's a brainy pledge I'm making to myself -- any takers? A PROMISE TO MY BRAIN

  1. I will see my own doctor this year for a routine checkup. (Chronic stress can wreak havoc in unexpected ways.)
  2. I will work on getting my weight under control if it's not. (Heart disease and diabetes are increasingly implicated in Alzheimer's, and strokes are known to cause dementia.)
  3. I will to take a vacation. Seriously. (A good excuse to check out back-up caregivers and programs that can help.)
  4. I will learn to read Latin. (Brain workouts have been shown to build neuron connections at any age.)

Well, okay, maybe nullus on the Latin....

(Thanks to Elizabeth at GenBetween for the idea for this image. She posted a snapshot her husband took in the UK but it was small, so I found this similar one, by Flickr user Daniel Hughes , used under the Creative Commons attribution license.)